Pastel de Chocolate y Nuez de la Nana Jose
1/4 cup unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon for buttering the pan
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup pecans
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
Pinch of kosher or coarse sea salt
Confectioners’ sugar (optional)
Lightly sweetened whipped cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line bottom with parchment paper.
Bring about 2-inches of water to a simmer in the bottom half of a double boiler or in a medium saucepan. Place the top half of the double boiler, or a metal bowl or heatproof pan if not using a double boiler, over the simmering water and melt together the chocolate and the 1/4 cup butter. Set aside to cool.
Using a blender, chop the pecans finely. Add the eggs, vanilla, sugar, salt and melted chocolate mixture, blending until smooth. Pour the batter into the buttered springform pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out moist but not wet, about 40 minutes.
Once it has cooled a little, run the tip of a knife around the pan and release the cake from the pan. Invert onto a plate, and then again, or serve directly onto plates if left on bottom part of springform pan. If desired, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and serve with whipped cream and berries.
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This cake is a treat. What’s more, being flourless, it is perfect for both gluten free eaters and the coming Passover week.
As a fan of marzipan this cake feels like a fluffy, smooth, tasty piece of marzipan that has turned into a cake to become a bigger, lighter and longer lasting version of itself. It can be served as a dessert, with some whipped cream on top. If you are lucky to have some leftover, it makes for a decadent breakfast with a side of berries and some hot coffee or tea.
The recipe comes from the Mexican convent of San Jerónimo, where Mexico’s most famous nun Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was settled. It dates to the late 1600’s. Spanish nuns who came to help establish the different convents, had an indomitable sweet tooth, which paired with Mexico’s exotic ingredients, made for some of the country’s dearest and sweetest desserts. Centuries later, these desserts are staples in Mexico’s kitchens.
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